"Having those guys here you know we made it a point before the game to have a good game and have a good start because there are people that have obviously made a huge sacrifice for our country and they’re out here for us to entertain them," said Blake Wheeler, postgame. "We wanted to play well and play hard for them."
To show their support for the armed forces, Mark Stuart and Blake Wheeler each purchased $5,000 worth of tickets to the game and some of the soldiers who attend the game with Stuart and Wheeler’s tickets met the Bruins after the game.
"Yeah, I mean, there was a lot of emotion involved tonight," said Stuart. "I think from all the people that were here in the building and plus the puck drop, I think it got everybody’s blood flowing.
"It was pretty special to see and I think I speak for all the guys on the team, we wanted to come out with a win tonight for them and for us, for sure."
In addition to the players’ donation, Bruins fans have donated over $84,000 worth of tickets through the Boston Bruins "Seats for Soldiers" program. As such, the B's sought to give the home fans the kind of start they expect from the Black & Gold.
"I mean that was kind of our main focus was coming into tonight -- to have a good first period, and not worry about the rest of the game," said Adam McQuaid
. "Come out with a good start and go from there."
Michael Ryder's goal at 15:26 gave the B's the boost they needed, said Nathan Horton
, but it was only the beginning.
"Obviously, it’s nice to get that, but it’s nice to win," said Horton. "we want to win for our fans. It’s a great place to play and we just want to feel good at home.
"We were working hard. We [drew] a lot of penalties and that 5-on-3 goal was big.
"We wanted to get the lead. It’s obviously more fun when you’re playing with the lead and, you know, that’s what we wanted to do and I think we got it. It just kind of went from there," he said.
And having the military personnel there in TD Garden made it genuinely memorable.
"It was really cool to be able to do something like that; get people in the building who, you know they deserve it," said Wheeler. "If you could sell out the building with people like that every game it would make this a lot more fun."